If you’re in a good marriage or desire to be in one, then you’re probably working to improve your marriage and help it thrive. But we all have times when it seems no matter how hard you try to make your marriage better, you end up back in the same old place (or worse). It feels like you’re running in circles, spinning your wheels and getting nowhere fast. You do occasionally see some changes but have you ever wondered why your marriage improvements don’t last?
The answer to that question depends entirely on the motivation behind your efforts. From the marriage trenches where I work every day, here are two types of women I see. Both women are working hard, but the first woman is cutting down the “marriage tree” with an axe and the other is using a butter knife.
- (AXE) The woman who pours out her love to address her own issues because she knows she needs to learn to love better
- (BUTTER KNIFE) The woman who pours out her love to get her man to love her better
From the outside, the second woman looks exactly like the first. She is doing all the same things which means she can even fool herself. However, because the second woman’s motivation is wrapped up in expecting him to change and not herself, she is doomed to fail for at least two reasons.
First, pouring out your love to coerce your man to change fails because its manipulation, and God will not bless it.
It may work in the beginning, but soon God will expose your unholy motivation (even if you are unaware of it). Let God worry about your husband and you stay in your own lane working on your own stuff. The moment your motivation to improve your marriage shifts to his issues and not your own, all your efforts are wasted.
In my book, Dare to Love a Man, I show how The Shulammite Bride’s love comes from the purest of motivations. Her love is so deep and pure, it shimmers in her eyes and her man is undone because of it. She captivates him because she’s not trying to manipulate him to love her better. She loves him purely, regardless of his response. Her love is the most effective love; unconditional love (agape), or God’s love. And his response proves her love’s effectiveness. It works because when you love a man in such a pure, no-strings-attached way, it’s marvelously irresistible. God uses a woman’s pure love as a safe harbor where a man can come in out of the howling winds of a fallen world, let down the tensions of his sails and find healing and comfort. Your love can be the most magnetizing, irresistible haven of unspeakable joy—if your motivation is right.
Second, pouring out your love expecting him to change also fails because your efforts can only be sustained for a short time.
In my experience, the second woman’s efforts last for about two to three weeks (if that long) before she gets discouraged. It’s difficult and frustrating to sustain your efforts when you expect those efforts to change another person but you aren’t getting the results you want. So here’s the deal, if you truly want to become a great lover, then you must develop the strength to love even when you get nothing in return.
Your relationship will improve, change, deepen, and grow when YOU become a more loving person, not because you try to change your man. I know it, because I’ve lived it. I wanted Jim to change, but the underlying problem was I needed to learn to love him better. When I directed my motivation towards my own issues, the flood gates for his change opened. Your man will go through many stages of maturity, moods, phases, etc. and as wives, we must learn to love our men with no strings attached through all them.
So in your efforts to improve your marriage, take a moment and ask yourself very honestly, “Why am I doing this? Am I trying to get him to love me better or am I doing this because I need to learn to love better.” Your answer will make all the difference.
Stay lovely my friend,